Health Official Gives Student Safety Tips

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ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -

Students will need more than just haircuts and highlighters to truly prepare for the school year. Experts say it all begins with their health.

Debora Westcott, advanced practice nurse with AtlantiCare Health Services Pediatrics, has some important wellness tips for anyone heading back to the halls, one of the most important being getting enough sleep.

“Usually the children have been sleeping late in the morning [and] going to bed late at night," said Westcott. "It takes about two weeks for them to get back on a schedule where they’re getting appropriate early to bed, early to rise and enough hours of sleep."

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Once they do rise, Westcott explained a healthy breakfast is essential.

“Without breakfast, there’s no energy for them to learn, there’s no energy for them to participate," said Westcott. "It’s really important for them to have breakfast." 

Experts say a protein-enriched breakfast and enough sleep will help children stay focused, especially if they’re dealing with a busy schedule. With that, it’s also important to remember downtime.

“It’s very stressful for us as adults to be over-scheduled and for a child who has no idea how to manage over-scheduling, it’s equally as stressful, if not more," said Westcott. "It can actually interfere with their ability to learn. And, they’ll start to have nights where they’re not sleeping well.”

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One of the most common pieces of advice is to always wash your hands. Westcott said to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. When you’re finished, turn off the sink with a paper towel so you’re not touching any germs left behind.

These tips will help manage sickness, but heading to school can be physically demanding as well, especially carrying heavy books.

For an adult, a regular-sized book bag is a good size, but if you were to give it to a first grader or younger, it would be much too big and hanging too low.

Allow students to pick out book bags meant for their age and size. It’s also recommended that a book bag should not weigh more than 15 pounds and be sure to use both shoulder straps. Experts say using only one can cause back issues.

These simple tips can help transition any student back to school with ease.

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